Sunday, September 20, 2009
The Bridges Reopen
After five hours of conflicting reports on just who caused the bridges to be closed, US and Canadian authorities reopened access to the international bridges that cross through the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory. Whether the fines and vehicle seizures will continue for those Mohawks that refuse to report their travel to their own community is as unclear as the disruption in the first place. What is clear is that this conflict is far from over.
Confusing the issue is the role that tribal and band councils play in situations like this. With their existence being owed almost entirely to the US and Canadian governments, the question arises on whose interests are they working. Do they honestly place as their highest priority on the will of the people when less than 5% of the people participate in their elections? These administrations serve more as the old Indian Agents than a functioning government. The Saint Regis tribal council is in the process of developing "tribal ID's" that are compliant with the US Department of Homeland Security. The MCA already uses INAC cards that will also be compliant with the DHS Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. So in short, the tribal and band councils now play the role of issuing US and Canadian ID cards under the ruse that they are tribal ID's. It is unfortunate that the Mohawk people when standing up against oppression from the outside, find themselves standing against their so-called "elected officials". Millions of dollars flow into these administrations, either directly from outside governments or indirectly through enterprises, such as casinos that exist in partnership and regulated by the state. Unfortunate or not, the people need to keep an arms length (at least) to these Indian Agents, remembering who they work for and who pays their salaries.
To put this "border" issue into perspective it is important to note that Canada claims other areas of Akwesasne are theirs as well. Both the areas known as St. Regis and Snye (as well as several other islands) are allegedly north of the imaginary line yet no reporting to Canadian Border Services has ever been required or enforced. It is only Kawenoke, which is know as Cornwall Island that has been placed under this restriction. Kawenoke is Mohawk land; territory of the Kanienkehaka, as is all of Akwesasne. It is not MCA land or Saint Regis land and it is not Canada.